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Peter Foster: Inside notorious conman’s lavish $1200 a week Gisborne hideaway with picturesque views

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Notorious Australian conman Peter Foster was hiding out in a lavish $1,200-a-week estate with picturesque views of Victoria’s Macedon Ranges when he was captured by an elite team of ‘fugitive hunters’.

Australian Federal Police officers smashed down the door of the 58-year-old’s Short Road home in Gisborne on Tuesday – six months after he allegedly skipped court charged with a million-dollar cryptocurrency scam. 

The heavily-armed Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team found Foster hiding under a deck, barefoot and wearing track pants and a cheap white t-shirt, before he was placed under arrest and dragged away.

Police said Foster was living ‘quite comfortably’ and another man found in the house is being investigated to determine what assistance he may have offered the serial scamster.  

Rental records of the six-bedroom property, which has 360 degree views of the valley, show it has been leased out for $1,200-a-week since August this year. 

Notorious Australian conman Peter Foster (pictured) was captured by an elite team of 'fugitive hunters' six months after he allegedly skipped court charged with a million-dollar cryptocurrency scam.

Notorious Australian conman Peter Foster (pictured) was captured by an elite team of ‘fugitive hunters’ six months after he allegedly skipped court charged with a million-dollar cryptocurrency scam.

Foster was captured inside a six-bedroom luxury estate (pictured) which overlooks Victoria's Macedon Ranges

Foster was captured inside a six-bedroom luxury estate (pictured) which overlooks Victoria’s Macedon Ranges

The lavish home, which has panoramic views of the valley, has been rented out since August for $1200-a-week

The lavish home, which has panoramic views of the valley, has been rented out since August for $1200-a-week 

Photos posted online show the house, which came fully-furnished,  filled with opulent furniture and interior decorations

Photos posted online show the house, which came fully-furnished,  filled with opulent furniture and interior decorations

The property has a wrap-around deck, pingpong table, three bathrooms, and five car spaces. Pictured: The kitchen

The property has a wrap-around deck, pingpong table, three bathrooms, and five car spaces. Pictured: The kitchen  

The two-storey home, nestled on a sprawling 10 acres of bushland, came fully-furnished, with pictures online showing each room decked out with opulent homeware and ritzy artworks. 

A long winding driveway leads to the house, which is set back more than 200metres from the main road in a private patch of bushland and was reportedly used as a hobby farm. 

Panoramic windows encase the entire façade which faces towards the only incoming road to the house, giving guests full view of anyone who may be approaching the premises. 

Photos of the interior show a telescope set up inside the living room, looking out across rolling hills that stretch into Lerderderg State Park.

Other facilities include a wrap-around deck, Ping-Pong table, three bathrooms, three outdoor dining spaces, and five car spaces. 

Foster had allegedly been running a new gambling scam when federal police busted through the doors of the luxury rural estate on Tuesday, The Australian reports. 

It is alleged the scam involved a company which had been set up using the name of a dead man.  

Images of the dramatic raid show him quivering on the floor as officers descend on the rural premises.

Images of the dramatic raid show Foster quivering on the floor (pictured) as officers descend on the rural premises

Images of the dramatic raid show Foster quivering on the floor (pictured) as officers descend on the rural premises

The property, set on ten acres, is nestled in bushland more than 200 metres away from the main road (pictured)

The property, set on ten acres, is nestled in bushland more than 200 metres away from the main road (pictured)

He had initially tried to escape the tactical officers by hiding under a deck, eventually coming out when threatened with use of force. 

Sources told the Australian he then began squirming around on the ground complaining of a medical condition and paramedics were called. He was taken to Royal Melbourne Hospital as a precaution.   

Foster failed to appear in a Sydney court on fraud-related charges in May and an electronic tracker stopped sending a signal. 

His lawyer at the time admitted he had no idea where his client was.

The case against Foster involves allegations he conned $1.7 million in Bitcoin out of a retired pilot in Hong Kong as part of a sport betting scam.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan said the the arrest serves as a warning to the most dangerous and wanted fugitives hiding out in Australia.

‘The AFP’s world-leading technical and forensic capabilities is again demonstrating to offenders that there is nowhere to hide,’ he said.

‘There is no safe haven for criminals in Australia. The AFP, with our partner agencies, are relentless in ensuring those wanted for crimes face justice.

‘The arrest by FAST continues to demonstrate the close relationships the AFP has with state and territory police in combating transnational, serious and organised crime.’ 

Peter Foster, a notorious conman, has been arrested six months after he allegedly skipped court while facing fraud-related charges (pictured during his arrest in August last year)

Peter Foster, a notorious conman, has been arrested six months after he allegedly skipped court while facing fraud-related charges (pictured during his arrest in August last year)

Foster – using the alias Bill Dawson – allegedly promised a series of investors including pilot Konstantinos ‘Dino’ Stylianopoulosas ‘guaranteed returns’ on their money by having a mathematician predict the outcome of sports matches.

Prosecutors say Stylianopoulosas transferred Foster $2 million in cryptocurrency over the course of nine months between 2019 and 2020, in amounts ranging from $126,000 to $890,000.

But investors say their money ‘evaporated’ after they invested in the firm, called Sports Predictions, and prosecutors allege that no bets were ever placed and the money was instead diverted to Foster.

Police were tipped off about the alleged con after Stylianopoulosas contacted a team of investigators at IFW Global, who then worked with officers to track Foster down.

He was eventually tracked down to far north Queensland where he was dramatically arrested in August last year.

Foster outside court on April 22. The case against him involves allegations he conned $1.7million in Bitcoin out of a retired pilot in Hong Kong as part of a sports betting scam

Foster outside court on April 22. The case against him involves allegations he conned $1.7million in Bitcoin out of a retired pilot in Hong Kong as part of a sports betting scam

Footage of the arrest, taken by IFW Global, showed two officers dressed as joggers running towards Foster on the beach before tackling him to the ground. 

The case was sent to NSW, because that is where the cryptocurrency exchange used for the transactions was based. 

Foster was released on bail at that hearing but effectively put under house arrest and fitted with an electronic tag to return to court.

That hearing took place on May 20, with Foster’s lawyer Justin Lewis telling the court the pair met in his office in Sydney that day at 11.30am.

Mr Lewis said Foster assured him that he would turn up, but by 2pm he was nowhere to be seen and couldn’t be contacted because his bail conditions prohibit him from carrying a phone.

The Australian Federal Police said Foster, 59, was arrested near the Victorian town of Gisborne in the state's Macedon Ranges after a six month search

The Australian Federal Police said Foster, 59, was arrested near the Victorian town of Gisborne in the state’s Macedon Ranges after a six month search

Foster rose to infamy in 2002 when he sparked ‘Cheriegate’ after it emerged he had helped then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife buy two discounted houses. 

Cherie initially denied Foster – already an established fraudster who had served jail time in the UK – was involved in the deal, but after the Daily Mail exposed emails between the pair she was forced to make an apology.

This year does not mark the first time Foster has vanished while in trouble with the law.

During the 1980s, while marketing a brand of tea that he claimed was an ‘ancient Chinese weight loss secret’, he hopped from Australia, to the UK and then to the US – setting up a string of companies to market the tea.

Foster pictured outside court in September 2019. He was dramatically arrested in August last year after being tracked down to a beach in far north Queensland

Foster pictured outside court in September 2019. He was dramatically arrested in August last year after being tracked down to a beach in far north Queensland

Peter Foster is pictured leaving the Downing Centre District Court, in Sydney in April.

Peter Foster is pictured leaving the Downing Centre District Court, in Sydney in April. 

Foster outside a Gold Coast court in 2012. He was arrested for the first time in 1983 for a fake £40,000 insurance claim over a cancelled boxing match

Foster outside a Gold Coast court in 2012. He was arrested for the first time at the age of 20 for a fake £40,000 insurance claim over a cancelled boxing match

In fact, the tea was ordinary black tea, but each time a firm was placed under investigation, Foster moved country and set up again. He was eventually jailed over the scam in the US.

Foster had already served jail time for fraud when he helped Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, buy two cut-price homes in 2002

Foster had already served jail time for fraud when he helped Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, buy two cut-price homes in 2002

Returning to Britain in the 1990s, he was jailed again – this time for plugging ‘thigh reduction cream’ – but absconded while on day release and went back to Australia.

He was arrested on a British warrant in Australia, absconded again, and was then re-arrested and spent more time in jail in both countries.

After spending some time in Fiji in 2001, he returned to Britain in 2002 where he began dating Carole Caplin, who was then Cherie Blair’s style guru.

It was through Carole that Foster was introduced to Cherie, and helped the Prime Minister’s wife purchase two properties in Bristol at discounted rates.

When the deal was exposed, Cherie initially denied Foster was involved, until the Daily Mail printed email conversations between the pair.

In them, Cherie called Foster ‘a star’ and told him ‘we’re on the same wavelength.’

The revelation prompted a tearful public apology from Cherie, who denied knowing about Foster’s criminal past and blamed her ‘mistake’ on ‘trying to be a good wife and mother, trying to be the prime ministerial consort at home and abroad..’

‘Some of the balls get dropped – there just aren’t enough hours in the day,’ she said.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PETER FOSTER  

Early Years

As a teenager in the late 1970s, Foster began promoting nightclubs and boxing matches on the Gold Coast. But he was declared bankrupt in the early 80s after trying to sell tickets for a Muhammad Ali fight in Australia that never came off. He was also fined $A100,000 in Britain for trying to claim insurance for a cancelled fight.

Slimming Teas

Undeterred, Foster hooked up with a number of high-profile British girlfriends who he used to promote his ‘slimming’ Bai Lin Tea. He fled Britain and fraudulently re-marketed the product as Chow Low Tea in the US where he was caught and forced to serve four months in jail. He was also jailed in the UK when he returned in 1995.

Cherie-Gate

Foster sparked two weeks of turmoil for British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002 when he became a financial adviser to Blair’s wife Cherie. He and girlfriend Carole Caplin, a confidante to Mrs Blair, helped as ‘middle men’ in the purchase of two flats in Bristol.

Fijian Follies

Chased by local police in 2006 for forging documents about his criminal history, Foster strips down to his underpants and dives from a bridge into a river but hits his head on a boat and is captured.

He then goes on a hunger strike, preventing hospital staff from handing him over to police because he’s too weak. While on bail, escapes to Vanuatu on a boat.

Slim Pickings

Foster is declared bankrupt by the Federal Court in January 2018 after refusing to pay court costs relating to SensaSlim, a scam weight loss company. 

He was jailed in 2014 for contempt of court over SensaSlim, before which he had spent around a year in hiding in a bush property near Byron Bay.

Sports Rorts

Foster arrives six hours late to his sentencing at a Sydney court in October 2018 after being sentenced for possessing a fake Irish passport in order to get an offshore betting license for a sports trading company. 

His lawyer told the court his client’s delay was down to food poisoning.  

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Fears for UK housing market amid sharp slowdown in price growth

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Fears for UK housing market as latest data shows sharp slowdown in price growth after mortgage costs rocket

There were fears the UK housing market has begun to splutter after fresh data showed price growth had dramatically slowed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the average UK house price increased by 7.8 per cent in the year to June, sharply down on May when prices jumped 12.8 per cent.

The slowdown followed similar assessments from mortgage lenders such as Halifax, which this month said prices fell in July for the first time in over a year.

The Office for National Statistics reported that the average UK house price increased by 7.8% in the year to June, sharply down on May when prices jumped 12.8%

The Office for National Statistics reported that the average UK house price increased by 7.8% in the year to June, sharply down on May when prices jumped 12.8%

‘We are seeing the end of an era of consistent rapid house price growth and the start of a new chapter characterised by economic instability,’ said Andy Sommerville, director at property data firm Search Acumen.

He forecast house price growth stalling or falling, as inflation and interest rate rises take the heat out of demand, which had been ‘exponentially outstripping supply since the pandemic.’

It comes as mortgage costs have jumped after the Bank of England raised its benchmark lending rate from 0.1 per cent in December to 1.75 per cent this month in an effort to curb inflation.

Yesterday housebuilder Persimmon reported a profit of nearly £440million for the first half of the year, down from £480million in 2021. ‘

As the pressure on people’s finances grows it is going to become increasingly difficult for them to afford to move house,’ said AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson.

She added that Persimmon’s ability to build was hit by ‘shortages of skilled labour and materials.’ Its share price fell 7.8 per cent, or 145p, to 1704p.

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People in Weoley Castle, Birmingham are at ‘the end of their tether’ over massive pile of rubbish

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Neighbours are at ‘the end of their tether’ over massive pile of rubbish in council flat garden including fridges, trollies and furniture that has been growing for 10 YEARS

  • The garden in Weoley Castle, Birmingham, has been used as a dumping ground 
  • The pile of rubbish has been growing for over a decade and is now attracting rats
  • Next door neighbour Darren Holden, 52, said ‘something has to be done’ 
  • A video shows the garden overflowing with old mattresses, fridges and trollies 

Furious neighbours are fed-up after a council flat garden that has been used as a dumping ground for rubbish for more than a decade is now starting to attract rats.

Hospital worker Darren Holden, 52, from Weoley Castle in Birmingham, said he and his fellow neighbours are ‘reaching the end of their tether’ after the pile of waste, which includes fridges, trollies and furniture, has been building for 10 years.

Video footage of his neighbour’s garden shows a sea of discarded household appliances, including what looks like a bathtub and mattress, as well broken bits of wood scattered across the garden.

Mr Holden said the garden belongs to an elderly tenant who lives in the council flat above his own and is understood to have a medical condition.

The frustrated resident said: ‘The other neighbours and myself are just getting sick of it. We’re getting rats in our gardens and it’s getting worse and worse every year.

‘I’ve lived in the property for 14 years and I’d say this has been going on for up to ten years now. Some of the neighbours have to look at all the rubbish from their windows.

‘I’ve seen rats in my garden – my dog chased one off the other day.’

Darren Holden, 52, from Weoley Castle, Birmingham, is 'reaching the end of his tether' after the garden next door to his home has been used a dumping ground for more than 10 years. The ever-growing rubbish pile, which includes a fridges, trollies and a mattress, is now attracting rats.

Darren Holden, 52, from Weoley Castle, Birmingham, is ‘reaching the end of his tether’ after the garden next door to his home has been used a dumping ground for more than 10 years. The ever-growing rubbish pile, which includes a fridges, trollies and a mattress, is now attracting rats. 

Everyday Mr Holden has to walk through the rubbish-strewn garden to get from his home into his own garden.

Despite making a complaint to Birmingham City Council years ago, when the mound of waste first started to build, he heard nothing back.

He added: ‘It’s full of old fridge freezers with the doors taken off, air fryers, televisions, baby baths, old chairs, lots of wood, bed bases, chairs, glass – you name it, it’s in there.

‘I saw a shopping trolley from Asda in the road the other day then noticed the next day it was in the garden.

‘I have complained to the council before but nothing happened, I didn’t hear back. Then it just carried on getting worse.’

Broken bits of wood, household appliances and chairs are some of the items that have been chucked into the garden over the last decade. Mr Holden first made a complaint to Birmingham City Council years ago but he never got a response. The council has now said it has issued a warning to the tenant to clean the garden within the next 14 days.

Broken bits of wood, household appliances and chairs are some of the items that have been chucked into the garden over the last decade. Mr Holden first made a complaint to Birmingham City Council years ago but he never got a response. The council has now said it has issued a warning to the tenant to clean the garden within the next 14 days. 

Mr Holden said he does not want to cause any issues for the elderly man who owns the garden but wants the council to provide him with help to clean it up.

He added: ‘I’m at the end of my tether now and don’t know what to do. Enough is enough, people are getting fed up and I’m not putting up with it anymore.

‘I don’t want to cause any issues for the guy who lives there – he’s elderly and lives alone so he probably just needs some help. But something has to be done.’

The Weoley Castle garden is strewn with discarded fridges, trollies, furniture, household appliances, mattresses and broken bits of wood.

The garden is believed to be owned by an elderly man with a medical condition. Mr Holden said he wants the council to help the resident.

The council flat garden is believed to be owned by the elderly man who lives above Mr Holden. Mr Holden said he does not ‘want to cause any issues to the guy who lives there’ but added that something had to be done. 

Birmingham City Council said it has now contacted the tenant and issued a warning letter to clear the garden within the next 14 days.

A spokesperson for the council said: ‘We have been in contact with the tenant about the items left in their front garden and the impact this is having on the local community.

‘They have been issued with a warning letter to clear the garden in the next 14 days. We are working with the tenant to resolve this.’

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Hundreds queue for one rental property in Dublin as Irish capital’s housing shortage in crisis

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Over 150 potential tenants queued to view a single rental property in Dublin last night as Ireland grapples with a housing crisis.

A long queue formed along St Brendans Road in Dublin on Tuesday night, with over 100 people queuing for a viewing at the three-bedroom house at 8.30pm. 

Within 30 minutes, even as the sun set, a further 50 people joined the queue to view the property, which costs €1,850 a month, in the city.

Conor Finn, who posted footage of the long queues, tweeted that he had waited for an hour in the queue before leaving without viewing the property.

‘An hour later and I’ve left the queue after no real movement or chance of viewing the house tonight,’ Finn said on Tuesday night at 9.30pm. ‘People were still joining the end of the queue as I left.’

Ireland’s economy is booming as the republic offers low corporation tax rates to tech and pharmaceutical companies such as Google – and pandemic-enhanced revenues from those companies has meant the republic is enjoying a €8bn corporate tax windfall.

But employees from these companies have flooded into the country, meaning the demand for properties in Ireland have soared. They are also able to afford to pay higher prices for houses and renting a property, meaning costs have soared.

This, coupled with a shortage of properties, has meant Ireland is facing a housing crisis and one estate agents in Dublin have even had to introduce a lottery system for viewings after they received 1,200 applications for one home.

Over 150 potential tenants queued to view a single rental property in Dublin last night as Ireland grapples with a housing crisis

Over 150 potential tenants queued to view a single rental property in Dublin last night as Ireland grapples with a housing crisis

A long queue formed along a street in Dublin on Tuesday night, with over 100 people queuing for a house viewing at around 8.30pm

A long queue formed along a street in Dublin on Tuesday night, with over 100 people queuing for a house viewing at around 8.30pm

A long queue formed along a street in Dublin on Tuesday night, with over 100 people queuing for a house viewing at around 8.30pm

Demand for rental accommodation in Dublin has grown from already sky high levels in recent months – to such a degree that Ireland’s largest private landlord could have recently filled a new apartment block 30 times over, its chief executive said on Thursday. 

Chronic supply shortages pushed Irish rental properties to a new record low this month, with just 716 homes available to a population of 5.1 million people as of August 1, property website Daft.ie said in a report on Wednesday last week.

Irish Residential Properties REIT (IRES) Chief Executive Margaret Sweeney told Reuters that it received 600 requests to view 20 new apartments it listed last month near Dublin’s city centre.

The 61-unit development was fully occupied within a week of the builders completing the project, she added.

‘We’re definitely seeing much greater demand, there is a real shortage of good available accommodation. We’ve seen it increasing month-on-month,’ Sweeney said in a telephone interview.

‘It’s coming through in the fundamentals, unemployment is even lower than it was pre-COVID, there’s been quite strong FDI (foreign direct investment). We’ve a very young population as well as less emigration than previous decades.’

Estate agents Brock Delappe in Dublin said they have been forced to operate a ‘lottery system’ when choosing who can view properties because they have been inundated with applications.  

Within 30 minutes, even as the sun set, a further 50 people joined the queue to view the property in the city.

Within 30 minutes, even as the sun set, a further 50 people joined the queue to view the property in the city

Within 30 minutes, even as the sun set, a further 50 people joined the queue to view the property in the city

Ireland is facing a housing crisis due to a shortage in houses coupled with soaring demand

Ireland is facing a housing crisis due to a shortage in houses coupled with soaring demand

David Brock, an estate agent at the firm, said that there have been 1,200 applications for a single property.

‘The knock-on of that is, while the rent is low, you can only rent it out to one person and then you have got 1,999 disappointed people,’ Brock told Newstalk

‘When we’re doing the lettings and it comes to that, we need to operate a lottery system, which is unfair as well. You meet a lot of people who are desperate.’ 

While Ireland built too many homes in the wrong places in the 2000s, supply has since constantly fallen short of demand and rents have long passed their previous peak, limiting prospective buyers’ ability to save a deposit.

A years-long mismatch between low supply and high demand in Ireland has been compounded by two shutdowns of the construction sector in the past 18 months to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The resultant stalling in the building of new homes and a high number of well-paid employees at tech companies moving to Ireland has contributed to house prices rising again and rents increasing. 

In 2009, there were over 23,400 homes available to rent in Ireland – nearly 8,000 in Dublin and 15,500 elsewhere. In contrast there were less than 300 homes to rent in Dublin and 424 elsewhere on August 1 this year. 

Ronan Lyons, who wrote the Daft.ie report, said: ‘A resurgent economy over the last year has accentuated the chronic shortage of rental housing in Ireland.

‘The shortage of rental accommodation translates directly into higher market rents and this can only be addressed by significantly increased supply.’

Last month, Irish officials claimed Britain’s Rwanda policy has triggered a surge in refugees arriving in Ireland, reports The Telegraph.

But that is just one factor – the Irish government said that the country has seen an increase of refugees due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

The unprecedented number of refugees arriving in Ireland has put pressure on the country’s housing crisis, despite generous offers to host Ukrainian families.

The shortage of accommodation has become so critical that around 4,300 Ukrainian refugees are set to be displaced this month, reports the Irish Independent. They are being housed in hotels and hospital accommodation. 



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